No. 311.
Mr. White to Mr. Bayard .

No. 459.]

Sir: I have the honor to report to you briefly the trial yesterday, at the central criminal court, of George F. Anderson, a citizen of the United States, who was found guilty of obtaining money under false pretenses from Charles Deakin and others, also American citizens, and sentenced to five years’ penal servitude.

I attended the trial, which, I need scarcely say, was perfectly fair, every opportunity being afforded the prisoner, including several postponements, at his request, for one frivolous cause or another, to clear himself of the charges brought against him; but no evidence was he able to produce to prove that he had not falsely represented to the Deakins and others that they were about to obtain a large property here, the actual occupiers of which, knowing that they were shortly to be turned out, had declined to pay the taxes due thereupon, and that the property would be sold to pay the same unless money were forthcoming for the purpose; or that he had not strongly urged that this should be sent by the Deakins, who cabled him about $3,000, having previously advanced other sums for the prosecution of this fictitious “claim.”

The owner and occupier of the property, who had been in undisturbed possession for twenty-seven years, proved that no legal proceedings had been taken against him, with a view to his ejectment; the tax-collector of the district swore that the taxes on the property in question had never been in arrear, and that no such claim as that reported by Anderson had been made, nor was the prisoner able to show that he had devoted the money received from the Deakins for any such purpose. It was, on the contrary, very clearly proved that he made quite another use of it.

My reason for reporting this trial to you is that it happens to be the first occasion that I know of in which a perpetrator of the extensive and outrageous “estate” frauds from which our countrymen are such sufferers, and which Mr. Phelps has already reported to you, has been brought to justice; and I venture to hope that if full publicity be given to this case, it may be the means of saving many thousands of dollars, of which American citizens are annually robbed by gangs of thieves who, under the pretense of prosecuting claims to estates in this country, which either have no existence at all or are safely vested in the hands [Page 464] of those who own them, obtain large sums of money, which they spend here in riotous living.

It is to be hoped that the rascals who have hitherto practiced this nefarious trade with impunity will scarcely think it worth the risk of five years’ penal servitude. Possibly the knowledge that this will be their fate if caught may deter them from embarking in the fictitious “estate” business, and may also induce their victims to come to England and prosecute them as Deakin did. I am happy to say that the latter has been rewarded for his perseverance by the recovery of a considerable portion of his money.

I have the honor to inclose for your information copies of the correspondence which passed between this legation and Anderson while his case was before the police court.

I have, etc.,

Henry White.
[Inclosure 1 in No. 459.]

Mr. Anderson to Mr. Phelps .

My Dear Sir: It is not long since I addressed you, and as yet have not received any reply or in any way or any kind suggestion. In the autumn of 1864, September 12, a boy shouldered a gun (from no mercenary motive), traveled through the enemy’s country with Thomas, Sherman, and Schofield, one of the defenders of our national emblem, “The Stars and Stripes,” which you, my representative, represent here in Great Britain. That boy was G. F. Anderson, Company B, Twenty-eighth Michigan-Volunteer Infantry. I am a humble citizen of the United States of America, and only request as such the kind or unkind consideration that the humblest can expect. I am in a foreign country in trouble, yet I dare not despair. Surely the country I was willing to pledge my life for in the days of her direst distress will not altogether desert her boy without first hearing his side of the question. I ask only that I may be heard. I have been incarcerated in Holloway prison for two weeks, while my enemies betide me, and I have not been able to utter one word. I ask you, my dear sir, to advise me. I claim that I have but one motive in the certain case, and have had but one, that is to simply protect John Deakin, my client, as between Mr. W. C. Deakin and myself and Mr. Stanford. I have had the fullest understanding in regard to what was due Father Deakin, and when it was to be paid by me to him, and it was understood fully what was not used in his interest should be returned to him; and I have been at all times ready and willing to pay him or any one he wished me to pay, and should have paid either Mr. W. C. Deakin or Mr. Stanford if a disagreement had not risen between them, and each vieing with the other to command me, and at last I agreed to meet Mr. Stanford in New York, to pay Mr. John Deakin, February 15, 1887; hence my present trouble. I humbly ask you to advise me what am I to do. I am prepared, and have always been, to live up to my agreement with my client John Deakin.

Ever yours, faithfully

G. F. Anderson.
[Inclosure 2 in No. 459.]

Mr. White to Mr. Anderson .

Sir: I am desired by the United States minister to reply to your letter of the 31st January. It refers to a previous note which you state has been addressed to him, but which was never received.

The minister very much regrets to learn that grave charges of a criminal nature for frauds alleged to have been perpetrated upon American citizens, have been preferred against you, which the law officers of the British Government have thought it necessary to prosecute.

[Page 465]

As to the truth of these charges the minister has of course no knowledge, and would be glad to learn that they are unfounded.

Of a fair trial and full hearing in respect to them you may rest assured. If they should fail to be established by legal and satisfactory evidence, no interposition on the part of the United States will be necessary. But if proved to be true such interposition would neither be proper nor effectual.

The protection afforded by the United States Government to its citizens in other countries does not involve any attempt to shield them from the legal consequences of offenses committed against the laws of those countries; the Government will only interfere in such cases where there is an attempt to deprive the accused of a fair trial and equal justice, which certainly will not occur in your case.

I am, etc.,

Henry White,
Secretary of Legation.
[Inclosure 3 in No. 459.]

Mr. Anderson to Mr. Phelps .

My Dear Sir: Yours of the 2d instant at hand, for which accept my sincere thanks.

I have had every reason to believe that our Government—the United States of America—did interfere and had a right to do so when there is an attempt to deprive the accused of a fair trial, that the accused may at all times have an equal chance and equal justice.

I find I have been confined here in Holloway nearly three weeks, being refused the right of bail, and in consequence of the refusal of bail (to which I am surely entitled) jeopardizing my case, as I certainly have a just and honorable defense. I am prevented in every way from getting my evidence properly presented and my witnesses here on time, simply because I am restricted on all sides, while my accusers have every facility and great freedom of action accorded them to conduct the prosecution of this very grave charge.

If this action is a fair interpretation of a fair trial and equal justice before the law, as awarded the citizens of our country when in foreign countries, there must be a very serious misunderstanding somewhere.

I thoroughly understand, and it is quite distinguishable in nearly all cases where misfortunes overtake mankind, that a little leaven leaveneth a whole lump. I sincerely will thank you most heartily if you will assist me in this my suggestion and request for bail, as you say in your letter of 2d I will not be denied a fair trial and equal justice.

I am, etc.,

G. F. Anderson.

I am greatly obliged to you for the very kind treatment and the courtesies extended to my wife when she called. She has just spoken of it. I little thought when I called on you with Senator Palmer (in November), of Michigan, that I would be humbly asking your favor in so serious a matter.


[Inclosure 4 in No, 459.]

Mr. White to Mr. Anderson .

Sir: I am directed by the minister to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 4th instant, and to state in reply that it would be neither possible nor proper for him to address any communication to the law officers of the Crown with reference to your being admitted to bail.

We are informed, on inquiry, that, according to the custom usual in cases similar to yours, you are not entitled at this stage to be admitted to bail; but that, in the event of your being committed for trial by the magistrate, you might then be admitted to bail.

I am, etc.,

Henry White,
Secretary of Legation.